Little spotted kiwi/kiwi pukupuku were recently returned to Dusky Sound in Fiordland for the first time in more than a century.

Twenty birds were transferred from Kāpiti Island north of Wellington to predator-free Anchor Island/Pukenui in Dusky Sound to start another population of this endangered kiwi.

The kaitiakitanga of kiwi pukupuku on Kāpiti Island by Ngāti Toa rangatira for over a century has enabled their redistribution back to Dusky Sound.

The birds were accompanied by Hohepa Potini, a representative of Ngāti Toa rangatira and were welcomed to the island by Dave Taylor of Ōraka-Aparima Rūnaka.

The Department of Conservation team captured the little spotted kiwi on Kāpiti Island by tracking the birds via transmitters and searching known daytime burrows with a certified kiwi dog.
The kiwi were then released into natural burrows on the island.

Little spotted kiwi were originally widespread in both the North and South Islands but were rare in the North Island by the time Europeans arrived. They remained widespread in the South Island through the 1800s but gradually disappeared from the mainland leaving only a small relict population on D’Urville Island by the early 1900s.

Five of these survivors were transferred to Kāpiti Island in 1912 where they flourished. Management of this species over the past 20 years has reversed its decline due to the growth of the Kāpiti Island population and transfers to other predator-free offshore islands and the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. The transfer to Anchor Island/Pukenui will increase the habitat further for this species and will contribute to the goal in the Kiwi Recovery Plan of increasing the current wild population of 2000 birds by fifty percent.